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A critical portrait of East London in the lead up to the 2012 Olympic Games

Narrated by Iain Sinclair

On the eve of the 2012 Olympics, this critical portrait of East London explores the transformation of the area from a marginal, working class community to a vibrant cultural hotspot, about to take the world's centre stage. With a lyrical cinematic style that oscillates between compelling imagery and gripping interviews, it explores the conflicts and hopes of East Londoners in the midst of the Olympic Propaganda Campaign, asking: what happens after the Games?

"There was a great community spirit among all the Cockneys", Dennis Weaver says, as he drives past the brown brick flats of East London. "There are lots of parts of East London where it could still be the 50s or 60s; it hasn't changed", he continues. "What has changed is the Cockneys have moved out."

This is the reality that exists already within East London, as the traditional society has been replaced by a new ethnically diverse one. As the Olympics descend on London the question lingers now whether regeneration will bring improvements to those living in the area, or start a new exodus.

"The Olympic site was a dump, I would never go there. Now they have completely regenerated it", Asif Karem, a local textile merchant tells us. For Asif the Olympic development represents the creation of jobs and infrastructure and will make Stratford a hub of the East. He sees only new opportunities created for him and those around him.

Mark Hunter, an Olympic rower from the East End, sees something to inspire the residents sense of community:"I think it's a real good opportunity to show what the area has to offer and put it on the map." But is this actually what the games bring to the table? "The Olympics was meant to benefit the people of Tower Hamlets, but it's not. They're being asked to move out." As Christine Ali points out, it is likely that the regeneration may bring improvements for others, while actually driving out the people who live in East London.

According to Iain Sinclair, the underpinning of the plan for re-generation is flawed. "All the dirty and dangerous industries of London were on the Olympic land. You cannot use these blocks for public housing because nobody is going to want to take that chance."

"I think the legacy of the Olympics is just going to leave East London with a massive shopping centre!" one resident moans. As the games approach, what the Olympic site will bring to London in the long-term is still uncertain. Will the dreams for regeneration ever become a reality?

Film Credits

Directors: Daniele Rugo

Producers: Abi Weaver

Photography: Nicolas Sburlati

Editing: Daniele Rugo

Sound: Dawid Wasilewski

Music: Alessandro Cerino

Production Company: Breakfast Cinema


Orginal Title: The Olympic Side of London

UK Classification: None

Subtitles: No

Voiceover: Yes


Length: 72 min

Colour: Yes


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The Olympic Side of London Screening:

  • Tue29May

    at Roxy Bar and Screen

    29 May 2012 4:30 pm

    There is also a Panel Discussion
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